In the grand scheme of things, I’m fortunate to have what might be referred to as “good” skin. I—knock on wood—have never suffered through consistent bouts of acne, thereby avoiding the picking, popping, and subsequent scarring. I have olive-toned skin (thank you, genetics), and I typically tan easily and evenly, fortunately escaping brutal and harmful sunburns.
Don’t get me wrong, I have my bad spurts. I have the occasional terrible pimple induced by a salty or sweet indulgence. I have some darkness below and around my eyes—probably genetic. I develop a tomato-red face after I work out, and, although they’ve improved immensely over the years after learning and practicing the importance of cleansing, I can’t seem to rid the blackheads on my nose.
Between leaving my blemishes alone, keeping the makeup application to a minimum, and sticking to a well-rounded skincare regimen, a few weeks ago I would’ve told you I’m setting myself up for healthy, supple skin as I age. Imagine my surprise—and relief—when I visited the Strata Integrated Wellness Spa at Garden of the Gods Resort and Club in Colorado Springs and received a checklist of skincare practices to improve upon.
Biologique Recherche, a cult-favorite luxury Parisian skincare brand, only has a handful of Expert Centers in the country, Strata being one of them. I was lucky enough to spend a few days learning from Spa Director Rebecca Johnston, an award-winning esthetician and one of only six inaugural American BR Ambassadors. We also met with international trainer Mahtab Moaven as she demonstrated the VIP02 treatment, new to the brand this year. The treatment was created to compliment the VIP02 product line and involves a purposeful technique to help combat pollution and oxygenate the deeper tissue.
Because BR products are extremely concentrated, it is encouraged, and in fact, highly recommended, for clients to visit a BR center or spa to consult an expert who can collate the appropriate products for your skin at that time. And with so many products to choose from, it can be easy to select the wrong ones based on misinformation and assumptions from a skin self-assessment. For example, Johnston explains that if customers with certain skin types use P50 1970—arguably the brand’s most recognized and prized product, which helps exfoliate and balance the pH of the skin—they will not have a pleasant experience. “[It’s] entirely too strong for many skins. It’s too exfoliating. We’re obsessed in the United States with exfoliation, when in fact, most of the skin I see needs to go the other way. That’s one of the reasons we see so much sensitivity. [People] have over exfoliated, and we now have to very gently and consistently rebuild that skin.”
After making my way into the spa and discussing my skincare routine and concerns with Johnston, I laid back and relaxed as I experienced the Chan’beaute treatment, a Vietnamese practice of multi-reflexology that has just started to make its way to the United States. In fact, Strata is the first and only spa trained to perform the technique in the country. The noninvasive technique involves the gentle use of small facial tools to stimulate the epidermis and dermis and increase the blood and lymphatic micro-circulation. The therapy declares that blemishes, tension, and blockages in your face reflect a potentially larger imbalance or weakness occurring internally, and by observing tone, brightness, and texture, our faces can be a solid indication of the general state of our overall health. Johnston was attracted to looking at skincare in this way and wanted to incorporate this treatment into Strata’s holistic approach. “Everything reflects on the face,” she said. “Physical and mental, emotional and psychological trauma. [People] will wear it on the face.” It was during this treatment where Johnston helped me to connect the dots between my lifelong struggle through the countless sinus infections and allergy seasons and the darkness around my eyes—turns out I can’t chalk this one up to just genetics—and urged me to use a face roller more often to drain the lymphatic fluid out and down.
Upon my last day at the Garden of the Gods property, Rebecca and I had a pow-wow to recap what we had discovered about my skin: look to P50V 1970 for daily use, and P50 1970 when I’m having one of those bad spurts; mask every day and “cocktail” different masks together; practice cooling techniques after working out, such as a cool washcloth or stone facial massager (pro-tip: put them in the fridge before use) to calm my red, inflamed skin, and it’ll help to avoid heightened sensitivity down the road (reminder: heat creates inflammation, and inflammation creates sensitivity); and because the body detoxes through our skin while we’re sleeping, cleansing our face in the morning is just as important as cleansing in the evening.
Lengthy, detailed phone calls with clients discussing their skin, their history and ethnic background, their old and current lifestyle (after all, as Johnston stresses, we are not just the diet we ate yesterday), where they live, their regular routine, and what they want to accomplish is where the journey to a healthier face begins with Strata spa. A property that pays homage to the surrounding land and history, Garden of the Gods is a breathtaking destination for holistic wellbeing, fully staffed with a group of award-winning, kind professionals. Whether it’s for a singular trip or evolves into regular visits, you’ll leave the property refreshed and healthier than when you stepped in. And be sure to take a peek outside behind the Grand View Dining room. Both energizing and peaceful at once, it sure is a grand view.